Scaling up as a start-up during uncertain times

How can you best manage your resources and minimize the impact of uncertainty?
Dhruti Shah, Associate Director, C2C Organizational Development

Aug 04, 2022

In a linear and predictable world, succeeding in business is quite straightforward: it is done by planning, strategizing, predicting, managing, and doing more of the same. Yet, in reality, or rather, in today’s world, things rarely go as planned. All businesses and start-ups are highly subjective to geopolitical, social, and financial changes which impact their resources. 


Even with the most solid business plan, leaders must prepare themselves – financially and otherwise – to deal with several aspects outside their control. There is a term for this – ‘VUCA’ which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

Read on to see how you can manage your resources as a fresh start-up amidst external variables. 

3 key areas to focus on 

To scale a start-up during difficult times, entrepreneurs and leaders must embrace what they do not know and accept that their strategy and goals might change in response to conditions beyond their control. To deal with the uncertainty, they must remain flexible enough to adapt and maneuver. 


At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, McKinsey stated in an article that many companies adopted agile practices to cope with changing business priorities. The authors of the article concluded that companies with agile practices embedded in their operating models managed the impact of the crisis better than their peers.

Leading a start-up, your success will largely depend upon your willingness to embrace change and adapt to unforeseen conditions. Instead of remaining fixated on a product or business model that gets outgrown by emerging trends, get ready to pivot and steer based on the new data you gather from the market. 


Instead of getting lost in vague long-term objectives, entrepreneurs can get clarity on the tasks that require their attention at the moment. In practical terms, this can mean that the team of people should meet regularly to discuss what they must be urgently working on. Huddle with your team as often as you can to remain on the same page, especially if your product or service can be significantly impacted by market sentiment and macro-economic distress. Clarity of the path forward by keeping a finger on the pulse of the market, and alignment with the team is a sure-shot combination to survive today’s VUCA world.

Leaders, not entrepreneurs 

As shown by successful start-ups, teams are best led by someone who does not just focus on strategy and vision — but also connects with and understands their team. Therefore, entrepreneurs should invest in developing their leadership skills besides their entrepreneurial abilities. 

As an entrepreneur, get ready to put on the leader’s hat and approach your team with the intent of serving them and helping them achieve their goals as well. Place the technical aspects aside and simply focus on being there for your team. Some of the questions you may want to reflect upon and/or have a conversation with your team on are:

  1. What do they need from you? 
  2. How can you inspire them to do better? 
  3. How can you pacify their concerns arising from the uncertainty? 
  4. How can their professional aspirations be aligned with the start-up’s goals?

If you use your leadership skills and capabilities to respond effectively to outside challenges, you can minimize the impact of uncertainty and capitalize on the resources available to you. 

Final thoughts

Scaling a start-up in unpredictable conditions remains challenging nonetheless – but the uncertainty can be significantly mediated when you are willing to embrace agility, set clear tasks & objectives, and develop your leadership skills along with your entrepreneurial finesse. Your instincts will get you where you need to be. Just trust yourself and forge ahead. As French philosopher Voltaire said, “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”

Dhruti Shah is an Organizational Development Consultant and a results-oriented coach who believes in the power of cultivating the right mindset. She has a proven ability to thrive in dynamically changing environments, making her insights invaluable to today’s entrepreneurs and leaders. Dhruti is the author of ‘The Resilient Entrepreneur: Strategies to set you up for success’ – check her book out here


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